Sunday's presidential election has been interpreted as a referendum on the direction of Europe's poorest country, with Dodon representing closer links with Russia and Sandu with the EU.
Sunday's presidential election has been interpreted as a referendum on the direction of Europe's poorest country, with Dodon representing closer links with Russia and Sandu with the EU.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
Senior Health Canada officials said Thursday they could be just days away from approving a COVID-19 vaccine as many provinces reported increasing hospitalizations and Quebec cancelled plans to allow gatherings over the Christmas holidays.Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said final documents from the American drugmaker Pfizer are expected Friday. They are to include which production lots of the vaccine will be shipped to Canada and when. Sharma wouldn't put an exact date on approval or delivery, but said once the "key information" is delivered from Pfizer, she will be able to tell Canadians the news they have been longing to hear.Moderna's vaccine is expected to receive approval soon after. The supply will initially be limited to about three million people. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Thursday they are targeting priority groups that will most benefit from an earlier vaccine while reducing the spread of the virus.“In a country as geographically large and diverse as ours, we are facing some logistical complexities,” he said, including reaching remote communities and co-ordinating between various levels of government.The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to start planning for the distribution of COVID-19 in the most ambitious and complex vaccine rollout in the country’s history. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the country's distribution effort, said the speed, scope and scale of this plan makes it unique. A planning directive for Operation Vector includes preparations on vaccine-storage facilities and notes the possibility of flying doses on short notice from Spain, Germany and the U.S.Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals and front-line workers during the second wave of the pandemic as they prepare for upcoming distribution of the vaccine. Premier Francois Legault announced Quebec will no longer go forward with a plan to permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people over four days during the holidays. Hospitalizations declined slightly in that province to 737, but the number of people in the intensive care unit remained unchanged at 99 on Thursday.Legault said it was not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas.Ontario reported 666 people were in hospital Thursday with COVID-19, with 195 in intensive care — a 34 per cent increase from the week before. There were 1,824 new cases and 14 more deaths due to the virus.Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said there is a team working with the federal government on vaccine distribution. “It’s still early day. We are going to start this process as soon as we can to make strides," he said. "Everything we do is a step in the right direction.”The seven-day rolling average of new cases nationally is 6,044.The Prairie provinces have been a hot spot for COVID-19 in recent weeks. Saskatchewan and Alberta recently brought in more restrictions, with the latter making a request to Ottawa and the Canadian Red Cross for field hospitals to help with the surge.Alberta recorded 1,854 new infections Thursday — a new daily record. There were 511 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 97 in intensive care.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the contact tracing system is struggling under the volume of new cases.Manitoba reported 367 new infections and 12 additional deaths. Premier Brian Pallister called for more clarity in Ottawa's vaccination rollout, specifically when it comes to how doses will distributed on First Nations.The premier also expressed frustration with people who still don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat, even though more than 250 Manitobans died from the virus in November alone."If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," Pallister said.Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, announced 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 12 additional deaths as she outlined the early details of the province's plan for immunization.Seniors in long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized, she said, but more details on the plan won't come out until next week.Henry said health-care workers are tired from the pandemic and it's important to get through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes, in particular, are most vulnerable, and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Mia RabsonKelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With coronavirus cases surging at a record pace, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new stay-at-home order Thursday and said if people don't comply the state's hospitals will be overwhelmed with infected patients.Newsom's latest effort to keep people from gathering with others from outside their households divides the state into five regions and links business closures and travel restrictions to hospital ICU capacity. When a region has fewer than 15% of its ICU beds available, new restrictions are imposed.Newsom said four regions — all but the San Francisco Bay area — could meet that threshold “within a day or two." A litany of changes would take effect, including closing hair salons, barber shops and movie theatres. Restaurants may only serve takeout and delivery, and playgrounds will be off-limits.Retailers and shopping centres would have to limit stores to 20% capacity during the busy holiday shopping season.The order takes effect Saturday and, once triggered, regions would have 24 hours to implement the rules, which stay in effect at least three weeks. The rules don't apply to public schools with in-person learning.“The bottom line is if we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said during an online news conference from his home, where he has quarantined with his family for the past two weeks after his children were exposed to the virus. “This is the most challenging moment since the beginning of this pandemic.”The announcement was a gut punch for retailers and restaurants counting on the shopping season to boost a dismal year.“The loss of revenue many small businesses will experience as a result of this latest shutdown could be catastrophic,” said Allan Zaremberg, California Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.The new rules are the Newsom administration's latest attempt to control a virus that is spreading at rates that astonished health experts. In the last month, the state has pulled the “emergency brake” by imposing restrictions in 52 of the state's 58 counties, including asking people not to leave the state and implementing an overnight curfew.The curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. had little impact, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's top public health officer, acknowledged Thursday. He said data shows people have not curtailed trips outside their homes during the period that is only supposed to be for essential trips.“We of course had hoped and wanted to see more from that already, but we haven't,” he said.Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, said such a broad shutdown wouldn’t be necessary if the state had better data on where people are contracting the virus.“We do not have adequate data to know where transmissions are occurring and that reflects a failure of public health,” he said.Better understanding the data could, for example, show the state if transmissions are occurring at grocery stores, barber shops or restaurants and better target interventions. Klausner likened the current approach to shutting down food production, restaurants and grocery stores because of a salmonella outbreak.“That’s not the way we traditionally work in public health,” he said.California imposed the nation's first statewide stay-at-home order in March. It was open-ended and much more aggressive — all but essential businesses were closed.The order was widely praised by public health experts, but it came with a heavy cost: California lost 2.6 million jobs in March and April, overwhelming the state with claims for unemployment benefits.Since then, California has gotten 44% of those jobs back in a modest recovery as new cases fell dramatically after large gatherings ceased, and people wore masks and distanced in public.But by fall people were congregating more as cooler weather drove them inside, where the virus flourishes. A new wave of cases that began in late October has dwarfed anything the state had seen. California is now averaging nearly 15,000 newly reported cases daily.Unlike in March, when the pandemic was in its infancy and people were more willing to follow rules, the latest mandate will be met by a frustrated population entering its 10th month of restrictions. Some counties have bucked the rules, following cues from state and local elected officials who have criticized the governor for going too far.Shannon Grove, Republican leader in the state Senate, criticized Newsom on Thursday for continuing “to disrupt life as we know it without releasing the full data behind his decisions.”“And to be clear, it’s not just about the numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations he runs through in his almost-daily press conferences, but the data and facts about the toll his shutdown orders are taking on Californians’ mental health, on our children’s education, including the achievement gap, on domestic violence and child abuse rates,” she said.In San Luis Obispo, hairstylist Amy Lovece said she was angry because “salons are not the problem.”“I just go between home and work. I don’t go to parties or bars and I just want to keep working,” she said.California’s virus hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled since mid-October and now stand at 8,240, including 1,890 in intensive care units. California Hospital Association President and CEO Carmela Coyle said 80% of ICU beds in the state are occupied.“Hospitals are doing everything possible to address this crush of acute care needs but are challenged by a lack of needed critical care nurses, worldwide shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies,” Coyle said, adding hospitals support the governor's new restrictionsNewsom acknowledged the difficulty in following the rules. But he urged people to stay vigilant, promising the worst is almost over.“There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are a few months away form truly seeing real progress with the vaccine,” Newsom said. “We do not anticipate having to do this again but we really all need to step up. We need to meet this moment head on.”Adam Beam And Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
Growing up in Aurora, Keenan Hull says he experienced little racism in his youth – but there came a point where the tide began to turn. “I didn’t see any aggressive racism until I got older, turning into a Black man instead of a Black boy,” he said. “It was more microaggressions and [people] would just have those assumptions about me.” He saw those assumptions manifest themselves in many ways, including systemic, and it is that lived experience he has brought to the table as a member of Aurora’s recently established Anti-Racism and Anti-Black Racism Task Force, which convened for the first time last Wednesday night. “My goal [on the Task Force] is to make sure that people like me will be able to just live in Aurora and surrounding areas without having any fear of persecution from other people in the community that should be protecting us,” he told the group. Mr. Hull, who was one of the co-organizers of this spring’s Solidarity Walk following the death of George Floyd, outlined his goals near the start of the November 25 meeting where he and his fellow Task Force members began the process of hammering their goals and priorities. Although a list is still a work in progress, their initial message was clear: action rather than education is key to making a difference. Aurora’s Anti-Racism and Anti-Black Racism Task Force represents a cross-section of the community. Chaired by Noor El-Dassouki, joining her and Mr. Hull at the table are Tricia Wright, Phiona Durrant, Mark Lewis, Mae Khamissa and, representing Council, Councillor Harold Kim, who brought the idea to Council alongside Mayor Tom Mrakas. Like Mr. Hull, Ms. El-Dassouki grew up in Aurora. As a Muslim Arab woman, she told the Task Force she has experienced her “fair share of racism and discrimination” over the years, but she also recognizes “a lot of the privileges” in her life. “I acknowledge the fact I am not the target of anti-Black racism or anti-Indigenous racism and I think it is really important to centre those experiences, especially Black and Indigenous people, in experiencing racism because their lives are the ones who have been most affected and most at risk because of systemic racism,” she said. “I would like to see some real action and some actionable change, especially in the institutional racism of Aurora [in that] I hope we can work to kind of look at policies and practices that are embedded in institutions and understand how they are designed in a way that is inherently biased and racist. [It] might not be intentional, necessarily, but that is the way systems are designed in this country and a lot of areas around the world.” “The more effective way of bringing about change is to increase the implementation of anti-racist actions as opposed to just raising awareness of diversity and anti-racism and all of those items.” Added Ms. Durant: “From a leadership perspective, our community knows how our leaders feel about racism, about any form of discrimination, anything that makes anyone feel less than. As long as we know where they stand, it is easier for us to know how to move forward.” A native of Markham, Mr. Lewis says he experienced systemic racism every day as he watched his parents, teachers with the Toronto District School Board, “navigate racist constructs within our community and the education system while trying to provide a high quality of life for me and my siblings.” He moved to Aurora 17 years ago, choosing this community to raise his family as it reminded him of “Markham of the 1980s.” “I was not disappointed,” he said. “Like any fast-growing municipality, I watched Aurora’s growth drive more diversity among residents in our Town, which challenges the community to respond to growing racism, which has to be dealt with by both residents and business owners. For me, the biggest challenge as a father and a resident in Aurora is a little heartbreaking that my daughter is still experiencing the same [type and level] of racism that I experienced when I was her age so many years ago. It is time for us to make a positive impact and make Aurora a great place for all of us to raise our families.” Ms. Wright has lived in Aurora for 17 years as well, having come to Canada in her teens from a country where Black people are the majority. “If I did experience racism [in Canada], I didn’t take it that way, it was more that they didn’t like me because of something else because that isn’t necessarily what I grew up with,” she shared. “I think my goal on this would be to really continue to sort of raise the awareness. I think the more people know, the less they become afraid of something, with lack of knowledge and lack of information there is huge fear. Bringing topics and displaying different cultures, I think that will be a huge part of breaking down any barriers.” While the Task Force is just getting off the ground, several directions are being explored. In addition to Council’s recent efforts on workplace diversity within the municipal structure, Mr. Lewis suggested more can be done to examine diversity “within the construct of Aurora itself…ensuring the diversity of its suppliers in all aspects of the Town’s business.” Members also pointed out there should be a concerted effort to ensure Indigenous voices are also represented at the table after this integral group was not represented amongst the applicants who came forward, as well as to clarify their mandate. “I see a distinction between anti-racism and diversity and inclusion-related work,” said El-Dassouki. “I think there is a little bit of a distinction to me and I think it would be important for us as a group to have a common understanding and identify kind of common goals around those terminologies to guide our work going forward.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
A Regina teen has been digitally building the Queen City, block by block.Nicholas Fuzesy, 16, is part of the "Build the Earth" project in the incredibly popular video game Minecraft, in whichplayers can "mine" 3D objects in the game world to create new environments.The Build the Earth project started in March, with the goal of recreating the entire planet in the video game. Its relies on a modification that can track Google Earth data and put it into the Minecraft world, including streets and building outlines.Builders have to apply to be added to the server and then can pick a region to create. They'll eventually be merged together to create the entire world in Minecraft.For his application, Fuzesy created the Hill Towers. He was accepted immediately. "I didn't think many people would be working on Regina," said Fuzesy. "I wanted to sort of do it on my own."He's starting the job of creating the Minecraft version of Regina with the 12 blocks around Victoria Park. He's already created some of the city's most iconic buildings, like the Canada Life building, Blessed Sacrament and Hotel Saskatchewan.His favourite so far is the SaskPower tower on Victoria Avenue.The Grade 11 student, who attends Miller Comprehensive High School, said he first got into the game watching people play on YouTube. He decided to try it himself in 2014 and was hooked because of its versatility, he says.The game can be played online alone or with friends, in survival mode (where players have to battle computer-controlled characters while collecting resources and building structures) or in creative mode (where players can freely build with unlimited tiles and no real threats).At first, Fuzesy was joined by eight other builders from around the world working on creating Regina in the game world. But a system update wiped out their work, and Fuzesy was the only one who decided to start the city over again. He said it's rewarding work, because he sees it as a digital archive."It's surprising to look at what you've created and it's surprising to look at all the detail, and to mentally map it and say, 'Oh, … that's the building I've seen countless times in Regina," he said."And it's nice to be able to look at that and think that, like, you did it and and you're the person behind that."So far, Fuzesy said he's probably spent about 50 hours on the project. He's conscious of the time he spends on his computer, but his parents don't discourage his work on the project, because they see it as educational. "They weren't really surprised," he said. "I get passionate about something, and then I go for it."He's looking forward to creating other recognizable landmarks in the downtown area as part of the first leg of his project, including the public library and the Globe Theatre. "That location is sort of like the heart of Regina," Fuzesy said. "I feel like people [who] are joining the project would feel inspired to keep going because there's a significant portion of it done."He aims to finish the area around the park within a year, but is hoping for help completing the rest of the city."I estimate it'll take about 100,000 hours to finish the entire city.… And obviously I can't do that myself," he said."But if 100 people joined, it could maybe be done in, like, two years."Fuzesy hopes Regina residents will one day be able to find their street, their house and their favourite store in the digital world. As for whether Fuzesy sees this translating into a career in architecture, engineering or computer science when he graduates, he said he is considering coding — but is actually leaning more toward writing.
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
When Alaina Tom became pregnant with her first child at 19 years old, it lit a passion within her for birthing. Initially, she thought she would go to the hospital to give birth. But after a negative experience with a doctor, she began talking with Elders who told her that they gave birth at home. “I began talking to Elders in the area and heard that we’re the first generation to go to the hospital,” she says. She was also told that her grandmother gave birth at home, she says that is when, “Something clicked.” She decided to birth at home in her community of Tsalalh, just outside of Lillooet, B.C. She’s been an advocate for traditional birthing ever since. “Ever since then, it just lit that light inside of me to learn more. And so I did everything I could to do it traditionally,” Tom says. After her first birth, she began researching everything she could by talking with Elders, women and midwifery training for home birth and unassisted birth. She went on to have three more children at home without the presence of midwives or doctors and says all of her children were “born free.” “I just started this love for birth,” says Tom. While unassisted or ‘free births,’ where children are born at home without the presence of a medical professional, can be controversial, Tom wants birthing parents to know that they have options. After having her first unassisted birth of her first child, in 2001, Tom says that other women started reaching out to her. “Women just started coming to me after they heard that,” says Tom, women told her “I heard you gave birth at home, I need your help.” Now with 20 years of supporting women giving birth, she says there have been challenges and hurdles. Many women have expressed to her that they felt the Western hospital approach to birthing was scary or intimidating. “You know so many women have come to me saying it was scary. It was painful, I felt rushed. I didn’t feel special and it just breaks my heart,” she says. She says that in the beginning, she would just talk to women, creating relationships, and then she did an online training, three professional trainings, and in-person training to build her “confidence in the medical environment.” While she says that the medical community is more open now, 20 years ago she received more backlash. Before she says she was told that birthing at home was, “very unsafe” and that she was putting her baby in danger. “I felt really unsafe and unsupported,” Tom says. Despite the obstacles, she continued to study and believes that home birth can be safe, powerful, peaceful and loving. She has spent these years working with women to instill confidence in them. Her focus is on letting women know that traditional birthing is another option. Rather than calling herself a doula, she prefers to call herself a traditional birth keeper. “I just say traditional birth keeper,” says Tom. “It’s more like a support person, a knowledge keeper, I don’t do anything medical. I’ve attended several unassisted home births where I just educate the mom on how to take care of her placenta and how to tie her own cord.” Through Tom’s lifelong work she shares the juxtaposition between traditional birth and a Western approach in hospital. She is referring to the organized chaos in many hospitals, where many doctors and nurses, bring intensity and speed into the birth experience. “I find that so many times when I go to a hospital birth, there’s a whole lot of bright lights and panic and nurses walking around quickly and even yelling….’Breathe, get up, put your chin to your chest, and push, push!’” she explains. According to a recent study published in the journal Reproductive Health, in the U.S. one in six women experienced, “being shouted at, scolded, or threatened; and being ignored, refused, or receiving no response to requests for help.” The rates were higher for women of colour. In a Feb. 2019 study, Changing Childbirth in B.C., by The Birthplace Lab at the University of British Columbia found that “18 per cent of women reported that their care provider did not tell them about different options for care (46 per cent of OB patients and 5 per cent of midwifery clients).” It also found that “one in seven women were not given enough time to thoroughly consider their options (37 per cent of OB patients and 4 per cent of midwifery clients).” Tom explains that many people first experience trauma when they are born. “Birthing doesn’t have to be heavy breathing and screaming at mothers in the hospitals,” she says. “Birth can be beautiful, and birth can be gentle, and birth can be very loving and calm and peaceful.” One of the cultural components that Tom shares is the interweaving ceremony throughout the birthing process. “That’s the main thing is that it can be a beautiful, peaceful ceremony,” she says. “I really want to empower women about home birth as well, that it’s safe and it’s beautiful and it’s not as scary as people make it seem.” Even just to bring a braid of sweetgrass or just to have some drumming playing.” As Tom, a mother of four raises her children traditionally in St’át’imc Territory she hopes to see more people coming together, and uplifting each other. “I would like all of the birthing people and all the families to unite and to come together and to support one another in a positive, uplifting way and to go back to treating birth as a ceremony,” she says. For expecting mothers Tom encourages women to talk to their Elders just like she did when she first started on her birthing journey. “Encourage them to talk to their Elders and to sing their songs and to use their medicines and to know that they aren’t alone and that our ancestors survived for…hundreds of thousands of years without the aid of a doctor,” she says, “You can have the birth you dream of,” says Tom. “When we just surround each other with love then birth doesn’t have to be a scary thing because it works. We know that because we’re here and our ancestors knew what they were doing.”Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
On Wednesday evening the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at John Diefenbaker Public School. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to this member of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding family. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools affected by the isolation,” the release stated. As has been the case in the past, this case was not school-acquired. The division was informed on Wednesday of the positive COVID-19 test result and communication is being shared with the classroom/cohort, the connected staff, as well as with the school community. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. John Diefenbaker will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. The division, in this case, did not announce the length of the isolation. As is the circumstance in all cases in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. The school’s COVID Response Plan contains many important measures, processes and protocols that add layers of protection for students and staff. School personnel will continue to be informed and guided by SHA as they manage this case. Staffs at schools in the division remain vigilant in ensuring proper safety measures are in place and personnel from the SHA continue to guide and inform school administration and staff. The division explained that although there has been no evidence that transmission has occurred within any Sask. Rivers schools and we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.”Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Malgré un horaire chargé et les difficultés inhérentes à la gestion de la pandémie, il semble que le père Noël ait trouvé une manière de demeurer en contact avec les enfants de la région. La Ville de Contrecœur a d’ailleurs annoncé ces derniers jours en être venue à une entente de partenariat avec l’atelier nordique de l’homme en rouge situé quelque part au pôle Nord. Il s'agit une bonne nouvelle pour les enfants qui ont pu craindre que la Covid-19 ne vienne compromettre les activités du temps des Fêtes cette année. Selon ce qu’a appris le journal La Relève, il semble que la mairesse Maud Allaire soit intervenue personnellement afin d’assurer la mise en place d’un lien direct entre Contrecœur et le pôle Nord, situé à tout près de 5 000 km de la municipalité. Afin d’effectuer la liaison en bonne et due forme, une boîte aux lettres du Service postal express pôle Nord/Contrecœur a été installée au centre multifonctionnel du 4865, rue Legendre, devant le bureau du Service loisir et culture. Pour échanger avec le père Noël, les enfants sont invités à se rendre sur le site de la Ville et à utiliser le lien prévu à cet effet. En raison d’une période particulièrement intense en ce qui a trait aux préparatifs de la fête de Noël, qui aura lieu dans moins d’un mois, le père Noël n’a pu retourner les appels du personnel de La Relève afin de commenter la signature de cette entente. Rappelons par ailleurs que les enfants qui veulent assister au spectacle de Noël doivent s’inscrire dans la section Bibliothèque et sur la page Facebook de la Ville de Contrecœur. Plus de détails à venir à ce propos. Il semble que le département des communications de l’atelier du père Noël soit particulièrement sollicité ces temps-ci. La Municipalité de Verchères annonçait parallèlement ces derniers jours avoir obtenu l’assurance que les lutins du père Noël seront de passage le 6 décembre afin de récupérer les lettres qui sont adressées à leur employeur. Comme les lutins peuvent également être affectés par la Covid-19, il est important pour ces émissaires du pôle Nord que les enfants et leurs parents présents portent le masque et respectent les mêmes normes de distanciation physique qu’avec les humains. Afin de recevoir la visite des lutins, les parents doivent d’abord inscrire leurs enfants sur le site de la Municipalité avant le 2 décembre 23 h 59. Chaque missive doit être adressée de la manière suivante : Père Noël Pôle Nord H0H 0H0 Canada Afin de faciliter la tâche du père Noël et des membres de sa joyeuse et vaillante équipe, il est important d’indiquer le nom de chaque enfant et ses coordonnées postales dans le coin gauche de la lettre et d’y apposer un timbre pour assurer le transport du message jusqu’à l’atelier du pôle Nord. Pour les responsables de la Municipalité de Verchères, il s’agit aussi d’une excellente nouvelle. Les élus espèrent que la présence des lutins dans la région apportera son lot de joie dans le cœur des petits et des grands enfants, et ce, qu’ils aient été sages ou non au cours de la dernière année. Rappelons en terminant qu’un spectacle virtuel aura également lieu à Verchères le samedi 5 décembre à 11 h. Les petits sont invités pour l’occasion à visiter le site ville.vercheres.qc.ca afin d’assister à la représentation de La magie des Fêtes avec Brillantine et Grignotin. Au programme, des chansons avec le charpentier Maître Castor, une partie de cache-cache avec Frimousse le renard roux et une histoire interactive qui leur permettra d’écrire aux personnages durant la prestation.Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
TORONTO — Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes says the much buzzed-about shower scene that opens his new Netflix documentary was a result of great trust between himself and the director.The singer-songwriter from Pickering, Ont., did a Q-and-A with director Grant Singer via video conference Thursday for members of the media to promote the "Shawn Mendes: In Wonder" film.Mendes said Singer spent a lot of time building their relationship and making him comfortable with having a camera around before filming.He said by the time they shot the hotel-room shower scene, which shows Mendes from the waist up and has generated a lot of chatter online, they had developed a good friendship."Grant, I've been asked so many times about the shower scene and how I felt about doing a shower scene," Mendes said, explaining that the deeper they got into filmmaking, the more they wanted to make it "vulnerable and raw" and develop a sense of closeness."If you were filming me for another year, it would have been like waking up in bed with me in the morning and being like, 'So how did you sleep?'" he added with a laugh.Singer noted they shot the scene on a day when Mendes was on vocal rest."It was like, the door was open and it just felt by that point we had this trust where you knew you were being filmed and there was something that, if it wasn't appropriate for me to be filming, I wasn't going to be in the room," he said."Also keep in mind, when we were shooting that, we didn't know it was going to make it into the documentary. We were just shooting. It just happened to resonate thematically because that was the day where you lost your voice, or the day after. So it narratively played a part and why it's in the movie."Mendes, who releases his fourth album "Wonder" on Friday, allowed Singer to follow him around on tour and in his personal life in the film. Cameras capture him in his childhood home in Pickering, east of Toronto, where he first got the world's attention performing in short videos on the now-defunct Vine platform. The 22-year-old, of course, has gone on to megafame with hits including "In My Blood," "Stitches," "Treat You Better" and "If I can't Have You.""In Wonder" also shows Mendes with his family and his girlfriend, fellow singer Camila Cabello, with whom he made the 2019 hit "Senorita.""As an artist, it's very easy to believe people want to take advantage of you and play into the sides of you that media wants to eat up," Mendes said. "But I know Grant and I know how he is about art."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
The Liberal government tabled a bill on Thursday that it says will help bring federal law into alignment with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “I’m really pleased that we’ve gotten to this point,” said Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, about the first reading of Bill C-15, an Act Respecting the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A previous version of legislation to recognize the declaration, introduced as a private member’s bill by NDP MP Romeo Saganash in 2016, died on the Senate order paper in 2019 because it was not passed through Parliament before the election that year. The Government of Canada used this previous bill as a base to build the new legislation, in consultation with “Indigenous rights holders and organizations,” according to an overview of the bill provided by the federal government. The overview states that the purpose of the act is to affirm the declaration as a “universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law.” The bill would require legislators to create an action plan, in consultation with Indigenous groups, to ensure federal laws align with the declaration. The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the UN in 2007 as a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world, the UN’s website states. The action plan would have to be developed within three years of the bill coming into effect. The action plan would also have to be tabled in Parliament and made public. Nunavut’s senator, Dennis Patterson, said he’s cautiously optimistic about Bill C-15. “It’s certainly a very important bill for Nunavut,” he said. Having had a chance to glance at the bill after it was tabled, Patterson said he already sees improvements to the last bill, C-262. The three-year timeline is one thing he noted. He wants clarification on what will prevail — decisions reached in the Supreme Court of Canada, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, or Bill C-15. “I hope Senator Patterson will support this bill,” Obed said. He said that the senator’s concerns with the previous proposed legislation led to delays that caused it to die on the order paper. “There are many things that the land claims are silent on,” Obed said. Obed said that Bill C-15 will allow “existing human rights to be implemented in this country in a more exhaustive way.” For example, one part would allow a group or individual to bring human rights violations forward to an entity that would have the power to resolve these disputes. This would be like a general human rights tribunal, specifically for Indigenous people. Obed wants the bill to move through the House of Commons and Senate quickly, before a federal election is called. He said his work now is to lobby parliamentarians and senators to support it.Meagan Deuling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News
Calgary police are cracking down on anti-mask rally organizers and others who disregard public health rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Christa Dao reports, CPS have issued dozens of tickets since enhanced measures were introduced.
The Quebec government will launch a pilot project to see whether electronic bracelets can reduce domestic violence by keeping violent ex-partners at a distance. The project is part of a wider plan to combat conjugal violence, which was announced Thursday afternoon by the minister responsible for women, Isabelle Charest, and Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault. Charest said the province's services need to be improved, after a string of homicides involving spouses and children in the past year in Quebec.Quebec has set aside $180 million over the next five years for several measures.The bracelets the government is considering affixing to violent ex-partners would set off an alarm if the person gets too close to the victim. "The first step is to determine if this is feasible, with all the issues it can bring up — the costs and legal issues. We're going to be looking at what's been done elsewhere," Guilbault said. France has implemented a similar program. Red Deer, Alta., also had one, but it lost funding. Quebec will spend $9 million seeing if the bracelets could work in the province, but Guilbault didn't say how long the feasibility study would last.The bulk of the $180 million will go to shelters for victims and their children, to help them upgrade their programs and services, as well as for repairs.The government will also be setting up crisis units in six new regions and creating programs that provide emergency funding to victims of domestic violence needing to leave a dangerous situation."All women and all children have a right to live in safety at all times. It's sad that we still have to repeat it in 2020," Charest said at the announcement. "This is a step in the right direction, but I'm aware there's still work to do."
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.There are 396,270 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 396,270 confirmed cases (69,255 active, 314,608 resolved, 12,407 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,495 new cases Thursday from 86,875 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,168.There were 82 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 608 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,739,689 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (29 active, 307 resolved, four deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 420 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,583 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 61,621 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,343 confirmed cases (119 active, 1,159 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 11 new cases Thursday from 1,300 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.85 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 86 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 12.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 150,559 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 520 confirmed cases (111 active, 402 resolved, seven deaths).There were six new cases Thursday from 1,179 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 103,791 tests completed._ Quebec: 146,532 confirmed cases (13,198 active, 126,179 resolved, 7,155 deaths).There were 1,470 new cases Thursday from 11,594 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,638 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,377.There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 208 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,215,810 tests completed._ Ontario: 121,746 confirmed cases (14,795 active, 103,239 resolved, 3,712 deaths).There were 1,824 new cases Thursday from 51,144 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,769.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,197,157 tests completed._ Manitoba: 17,751 confirmed cases (9,130 active, 8,268 resolved, 353 deaths).There were 367 new cases Thursday from 2,804 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,463 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 352.There were 11 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.91 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 354,449 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 9,244 confirmed cases (4,017 active, 5,173 resolved, 54 deaths).There were 262 new cases Thursday from 1,696 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,882 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 269.There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 265,300 tests completed._ Alberta: 63,023 confirmed cases (17,743 active, 44,705 resolved, 575 deaths).There were 1,854 new cases Thursday from 8,049 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,145 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,592.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,495,622 tests completed._ British Columbia: 35,422 confirmed cases (10,013 active, 24,928 resolved, 481 deaths).There were 694 new cases Thursday from 7,929 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778.There were 12 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 815,367 tests completed._ Yukon: 50 confirmed cases (20 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 89 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,488 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 48 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,482 tests completed._ Nunavut: 198 confirmed cases (75 active, 123 resolved, zero deaths).There were five new cases Thursday from 39 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Author James McBride and editor Chris Jackson were among those honoured Thursday night by the Center for Fiction.McBride and Showtime received an On Screen Award for the acclaimed adaptation of his prize-winning historical novel “The Good Lord Bird,” which starred Ethan Hawke as the radical 19th century abolitionist John Brown. Jackson, whose authors range from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Bryan Stevenson, was given the Medal for Editorial Excellence Award. Jackson runs the One World imprint of Penguin Random House.The Center for Fiction awarded its First Novel Prize to Raven Leilani for “Lustre,” the story of a young Black woman's affair with a married, middle-aged white man. Finalists included this year's Booker Prize winner, Douglas Stuart's “Shuggie Bain.”The Associated Press
A 94-year-old man is the first Aurora resident to lose their battle with COVID-19 since June 9. The man was a resident of Chartwell Park Place, which is currently in an active outbreak situation. An active outbreak at the Yonge Street residence, formerly Park Place Manor, was first reported by York Region Public Health on November 11 with two cases among its caregiver complement of 40. By press time this week, there were 11 confirmed cases of the virus among the 65 residents and 4 among caregivers and staff. Aurora, as of December 1, has seen a total of 371 cases of the virus, 27 of which remain active. 328 cases are now marked as resolved with the late Chartwell Park Place resident bringing fatalities to 16. His death was the first of an Aurora resident in this second wave of the virus, the day after the Region logged a record of new cases in a single day: 251 on Sunday, November 29. The last victim, an 85-year-old woman who was a resident of Chartwell Aurora lost the battle after a long hospitalization. “Our cases in York Region had been plateauing until the weekend when we saw quite a jump in the numbers of cases and we don’t know exactly what is responsible for this jump and we’re investigating,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, in his weekly update on Monday. The latest death comes as York Region cracks down on gatherings as new cases of the virus continue to rise. In the lead-up to – and aftermath of – Black Friday, York Region conducted a COVID-19 enforcement blitz, which resulted more than 1,000 visits to businesses across York Region to monitor compliance with public safety measures resulting from York being moved into Ontario’s Red (“Control”) Zone. Throughout the weekend, officers from York’s COVID-19 task force focused on malls, big box stores, restaurants, fitness centres and other public spaces to ensure public health measures were being followed. One Aurora business, Xclusive Fades on Yonge Street near Wellington, faces charges under the Reopening Ontario Act. “Most businesses across York Region are adhering to COVID-19 safety measures and protocols, however there is an increasing number of complaints from the public about overcrowding in malls, big box and retail stores,” said the Region. “Businesses failing to keep their customers and employees safe by not adhering to the mandated COVID-19 safety measures will be subject to fines. Repeat offenders could face temporary closure.” Added Dr. Kurji: “York Regional Council had made the commitment of enforcement of the guidelines on York Region residents as well as businesses. As a result, we have the COVID-19 enforcement task force that has been very busy over the weekend having laid some 32 charges following 867 inspections as well as 1,151 compliance education activities. Fines can be laid even under the Reopening Ontario Safe Act or can be laid under the Health Promotion and Protection Act. The latter can be as many as $25,000 for a corporation. “When it comes to people coming to York Region from the lockdown zones, the Province generally advises them not to move from one zone to another. We in York Region have incidence rates that are similar to those of Toronto’s, although Peel’s incidence rates are higher. Therefore, we have taken the position that whilst people are supposed to stay home and only come out for essential shopping, if they do come here we want to make sure that everybody is kept safe. As a result, over the weekend previously, we had issued a Section 22 order requiring malls and retail outlets to ensure appropriate physical distancing and line management. By doing so, we have strived to keep people safe. However, with the holiday shopping season being here, we urge you first to stay home as much as possible, only to go out for essential trips, see if you can actually get your shopping done online from the local stores. If you can’t and you have to visit one of the stores, please visit them at off-peak hours and try and minimize the time you would spend at the malls or in stores and observe the directional arrows in the stores as well as the physical distancing requirement of two metres or more.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Urban design guidelines to help steer new builds in long-established local communities were formally endorsed by Council last week. The extensive list of guidelines provides parameters on everything from size to materials in order to ensure the new builds fit into what is already in the Regency Acres and Aurora Heights communities, as well as neighbourhoods on Temperance Street and around Town Park. Along with the guidelines, Council approved a semi-annual report that will outline to lawmakers the variance applications that have come forward and what has been approved. “The report will allow staff to identify trends and allow Council to better understand what development activity is taking place within the established Stable Neighbourhoods,” said the Town in a statement. “Under the Official Plan, stable neighbourhoods are protected from incompatible forms of development, and new development in these areas must respect and reinforce the area’s existing physical character and uses.” While a semi-annual update to Council was a request made by residents, particularly those in the Regency Acres neighbourhood, the report process as approved did not go far enough. They requested the semi-annual updates include a list of what applications were denied and why, a process which staff said would be too “onerous” to compile. Council agreed while sitting at the Committee level the previous week and when their decision came up for ratification on November 24, Councillor Wendy Gartner renewed the call. The main concerns of residents, she said, stemmed from privacy, particularly concerning rear yards, and the maintaining of the existing streetscape. Privacy concerns included minimizing the location of second floor balconies on rear side elevations. Additional issues ranged from the protection of trees to setting a maximum of three entrance steps to “encourage low profile entrance features close to the ground.” “The residents have requested reporting when consistency with the design guidelines is not adhered to by the developer,” said Councillor Gaertner, making a motion that the report “include instances where staff-approved variances regarding front and side yard setbacks, privacy and streetscapes are not consistent with the stable neighbourhood guidelines.” “Staff should be keeping a record of what they recommend to developers, that the developers aren’t interested in following,” she continued. “I think it is information Council should know and the residents want to have.” But this motion was ultimately unsuccessful with other lawmakers stating they were unsure what was hoped to be achieved by the report. “I am always happy to provide the residents with more information [but] I just fail to see the value it will get by doing this,” said Councillor John Gallo. Also casting doubt on including that in the report was Councillor Michael Thompson, who said as what was being recommended were guidelines for developers, the ultimate tools for compliance are the Town’s zoning bylaws. “The guidelines [are] meant to be able to shape the design, but there is a degree of flexibility in it,” he said. “If we want compliance in these areas, let’s reopen the zoning bylaw and put it back in the zoning bylaw and go down that road. Guidelines are just a tool and what Councillor Gaertner refers to in all those [areas] are subjective terms and they are open to interpretation. “The design guidelines are not meant for that kind of compliance. They are just meant to shape it and that is why producing this report would be so onerous because then it becomes a question of debating the subjective determination of what each term means and whether it was correct or incorrect. I don’t want to go down that road at all.” Councillor Harold Kim agreed, noting that the motion would take these guidelines in the direction of a bylaw. “I want to keep it high level and even if we went to that level of detail, what are we going to do with that information? I suspect we’re going to try and create bylaws out of that and we go back to Square 1 where we started two or three years ago. It is for those reasons as well intended as the amendment is, I cannot support that,” he said. Keeping an eye on how the guidelines go was something Councillor Rachel Gilliland said she supported, and that she understood what the residents were looking for, but what was being asked was too broad. “I feel if they came with their Top 2 or Top 3 concrete things that were the most important [and] relevant, maybe we can have a conversation, but it is almost the entire urban design guidelines that are being asked here,” she said. “It is so subjective and it is so many topics. I would think it would be very a very onerous thing for our staff to be reporting back on. “We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place here with some subjective opinions, but it is not really going to do us any service.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
WASHINGTON — Up soon for President-elect Joe Biden: naming his top health care officials as the coronavirus pandemic rages. It's hard to imagine more consequential picks.Already two Democratic governors seen as candidates for health and human services secretary have faded from the frame. Rhode Island's Gina Raimondo told reporters Thursday that she would not be the nominee and is staying to help her state confront a dangerous surge of COVID-19 cases.New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was offered another Cabinet post — interior secretary — and turned it down, a person close to the Biden transition said Wednesday. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus made a fresh push during a virtual conference call Thursday for Biden to nominate Lujan Grisham as HHS secretary. One lawmaker, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico — a distant cousin of hers by marriage — told Biden’s team that news leaks about her turning down the interior job were inappropriate, according to a person on the call who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it. Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, agreed and said it should not have happened, the person said.Biden is expected to announce his choice for HHS secretary next week. That person has to have “the confidence of the president, the ability to operate collaboratively across the government, credibility within the health care world, and the capacity to work with the states,” said former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, who served under Republican President George W. Bush.In the running for a top health job is former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, co-chair of Biden's coronavirus task force. Murthy has a soft-spoken demeanour and a reputation for consensus building. He's the author of a recent book addressing the human toll of loneliness, a problem that has become more widely recognized in the time of COVID-19.Job prospects for the pandemic's most recognizable public figure — Dr. Anthony Fauci — are not in question. Biden told CNN he's making Fauci a chief medical adviser and a member of his COVID-19 advisory team. As the government’s top infectious-disease specialist, Fauci isn’t a political appointee, so he will also continue at his post heading the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci's candour has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump.Alongside his health secretary, Biden is expected to name a top-level White House adviser to co-ordinate the government’s extensive coronavirus response. Vaccines developed under the Trump administration will be delivered on Biden's watch, a massive undertaking that's bound to have its share of logistical problems. The leading candidate is widely seen as businessman Jeff Zients, an economic policy adviser in the Obama White House who was widely credited with rescuing HealthCare.gov after its disastrous launch in 2013.Zients parachuted into HHS after the “Obamacare” website locked up on the first day of business, leaving millions of consumers frustrated and angry and creating deep embarrassment for then-President Barack Obama. After extensive reengineering, Zients and his team got HealthCare.gov running acceptably well, and the program managed to meet its sign-up target for 2014, the first year of coverage.Keeping the focus on the virus, Biden is also said to be close to nominating a commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration and a director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Under consideration for FDA are former deputy commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, who has also served as Maryland's health secretary, and Dr. Luciana Borio, a member of Biden's coronavirus advisory board who formerly held senior posts with the FDA and the National Security Council and has expertise in responding to disease outbreaks and bioterrorism.Being considered for CDC director is Dr. Julie Morita, a top executive of the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which works across a broad range of health care issues. Morita spent nearly 20 years in leadership jobs with the Chicago public health department, rising from medical director to commissioner.It's unclear if Biden will move right away to name an administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the HHS agency responsible for the government's health insurance programs. CMS will play a central role in the new president's efforts to expand health insurance coverage. A number of former Obama administration officials are under consideration.Health care will be a defining issue of Biden's presidency even after expected vaccines defuse the threat of COVID-19, former HHS Secretary Leavitt predicted. Addressing Medicare’s shaky finances will become an urgent priority before the end of the first term. The Congressional Budget Office projects that Medicare's giant trust fund for inpatient care will unable to cover expected costs in 2024.“If that is the case, they are going to have to deal with it legislatively in 2021 or 2022,” Leavitt said.Meanwhile, millions still don't have access to affordable insurance coverage. And racial and ethnic health disparities remain a festering source of preventable suffering. “The human services programs go through HHS," said Leavitt.____Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe and Lisa Mascaro in Washington and Michelle R. Smith in Providence, R.I., contributed to this report.Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press
A resounding no from council will force Georgian Bay Snowriders to find an alternative for the strip near Port McNicoll. A couple months ago the club’s agreement was up for renewal. At that time, when the request came to council, the club asked for access to a part of the municipal trail along Highway 12 towards Triple Bay Road. The agreement was renewed before its Nov. 1 deadline, however, a new request from the club came forward at a later council meeting asking for access to approximately 400m of the TransCanada Trail, just east of Triple Bay Road. “Due to recent water level increases from Hog Bay, the ditch parallel to the highway is incredibly flood sensitive and has become very difficult to maintain,” reads the letter to council. “It also has a new utility line running through the centre that may become difficult to navigate around.” But their request wasn’t enough to melt the hearts of council members. “With me, it's a hard no,” said Coun. Mary Warnock. “I would not even entertain this. There's no recourse to get repairs done to the trail after it's been used and we all know what happened last time they were allowed a little stretch, it got torn up.” She had support from other council members, too. “It's not worth the risk for our bikers, our walkers and our roller-bladers,” said Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle. “I'm not in favour of this. We spend a lot of time and money on that trail and I'm not about to let it go at this point.” Coun. Paul Raymond said he could understand the club’s frustration at having to reimagine a trail on a temporary basis, but he was still against it. “We all know the damage (that) will happen,” he said. “What are we saying when we allow a motorized vehicle on the trail when we spend so much time trying to prevent motorized vehicles on trails? “Sorry to the Snowriders, but they have the ability to find alternate routes, I think,” added Raymond. Council voted to take no further action on the request. The Georgian Bay Snowriders did not respond to a request for comment.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com